Just one week after Ultra-Trail Unseen Koh Chang in Thailand we have the next SuperTrail already this weekend. The 9 Dragons Ultra is a new entry in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship and has immediately been assigned the label of SuperTrail. By looking at the start list of the 50/50 stage race in particular, there could have been no other way. It’s a field of not only Asian and Hong Kong elites, but several top runners from other parts of the world are flying in to try and slay the 9 Dragons.
9 Dragons in Mandarin Chinese is Jiu Long, or indeed Kowloon in Cantonese. The event takes place on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and runs across the New Territories, roughly from west to northeast and starting at the Po Leung Kok Jockey Club at midnight on Friday. Essentially a two-day stage race, runners will cover 50 miles on Saturday and 50k on Sunday. The stage race is where most ATM championship points will be scored by finishers (550 for the winners), although with 432 points in his bag the winner of the 50 miles single stage will also return home happy. There are NO points to be scored on the 50k single stage. The rules of the event stipulate that any finisher on the 50 miles on Saturday who decides not to start on the 50k on Sunday, will be ranked as a finisher of the 50 miles race instead of the 50/50. If a runner, however, starts the 50k and drops out during it, he will be ranked as a DNF for the 50/50. In other words, championship points chasers signed up for the 50/50 need to know what they are doing on Sunday morning.
On the start list plenty of well-known names, including regular top 10 placers and ATM race winners such as Pablo Diago Gonzales and local Isaac Yuen Wan Ho. The latter begins his season this weekend after a lengthy period of rest that began following his Izu Trail Journey finish early December last year. From Philippines, Gene Olvis is one to watch out for and from Sabah in Malaysia, Milton Amad is an interesting name to follow as well. Of course, it will not be easy for them to compete against the established elite in Hong Kong on their home soil. Britain’s Tom Robertshaw won HK168 last season and could collect his 3rd ATM career win as he also won UTHK100 two years ago. But there’s also John Ellis from the Gone Running team, who could score his first race win the ATM Championship. Among the many international elites we also pick Harry Jones, who lives in Thailand and who could play a major role in this season’s championship. Jones is scheduled to run also next week in the Cordillera Mountain Ultra as well as Sungai Menyala Forest Trail in April.
The women’s event also features big names such as Marie McNaughton, winner of Korea 50K last year, and Elsa Jean de Dieu. 2017 Asia Trail Master champion Kim Matthews had planned to start the 50 miles race as well, but has pulled out. It’s still Chinese New Year, which does have an impact on air fares around the region.
As usual we will be reporting live from Hong Kong via our social media network.